“Don’t know Shiite From Shinola” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:
Almost unanimous on the right is the mystifying notion that a reduced American footprint in the world, President Barack Obama’s doing, has brought about the “sudden” eruption across Iraq of a particularly savage faction of Sunni fundamentalists called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This small band of zealots has conquered a third of Iraq, including the metropolis of Mosul, from which 500,000 residents have fled. Tikrit too is under ISIS control. Fallujah fell in January.
Odd too is the idea that ISIS, currently barreling toward the capital, Baghdad, is somehow a new killer on the block. While the gang, led by newcomer Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is not as ancient as the Egyptian goddess by the same name—ISIS was previously known as Al Qaida in Iraq (A.Q.I.), reflecting its earlier, more modest mission. A.Q.I. was the brainchild of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, described aptly in the New Yorker as, “A Jordanian who had been a convicted thief and sex criminal before turning to radical Islam.” Commensurate with its morphing, expansive ambitions, A.Q.I. changed its name to ISIS. Whereas “Al Qaida was originally envisioned as a kind of Sunni foreign legion, which would defend Muslim lands from Western occupation,” writes New Yorker staffer Lawrence Wright, “Zarqawi had a different goal in mind. He hoped to provoke an Islamic civil war.” George W. Bush’s invasion primed Iraq for Zarqawi’s purposes. “There was no better venue than the fractured state of Iraq, which sits astride the Sunni-Shiite fault line.”
So savage and extreme is ISIS, always has been, that it had been “booted out of the Al Qaida consortium,” attests Wright. Remember the “Dear Al (Zarqawi)” letter penned by Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in 2005? In it, Bin Laden’s Capo Bastone (Zawahiri) had asked the lieutenant (Zarqawi) to reconsider the wisdom of slaughtering so many Shia civilians in Iraq. Al-Z no. 1 broached the topic by counseling Al-Z no. 2 about the wisdom of bringing “the Muslim masses to the mujahed movement.” To that end, killing so many of them was probably unhelpful. Yes, the Shia are a handful—theologically problematic—conceded Zawahiri. Suspect too was the Shia’s history of “connivance with the Crusaders.” But while Zawahiri didn’t give a dried camel’s hump about his Shia brethren, he thought better of slaughtering them, preferring to forgive their “ignorance.” Besides, added Zawahiri as an afterthought, it’s impossible for the mujahedeen to kill all Iraq’s Shia.
While Zarqawi rejected Zawahiri’s soft approach, his personal odyssey has a happy ending. Zarqawi died, killed by Americans in 2006. But his legacy, like that of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, lives on in ISIS. Shia Iran, once a bitter enemy of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, now has pride-of-place in the Iraq that Bush built. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been galvanized to the aid of the Iraqi army. But it is not the 930,000 members of the Iraqi security forces that the Revolutionary Guard aims to rouse. Despite the princely sums ($25 billion) Americans spent to train and prepare it, in Mosul, this inorganic, artificial creation of the Bush brigades fled before 1,300 ISIS fighters. To fight the marauding Sunnis, the Revolutionary Guard will likely corral well-motivated, tribal Shia militias. (In Iraq, Shiites make up about sixty percent of the population. Sunnis comprise less than twenty percent.)
It is this cauldron of sectarian strife that Saddam Hussein kept from bubbling over. …
… Read the complete column. “Don’t know Shiite From Shinola” is now on WND.
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UPDATE (6/20): From (Figurative) Crucifixion to Cookies. One-Upon-A-Time They Crucified Me for what I would write about Iraq. Now I get a cookie. I’ll take the cookie. This reader calls his comments, “Thoughts while shaving.” His are regular quips at “Comments.” Funny. He writes:
ramblindon • 5 hours ago “Thoughts while shaving: While some contributors to WND are tedious at best, Ilana Mercer is not to be counted among them. With first cup of coffee in hand it just about jumped out of hand when reading the ‘Don’t know Shiite from Shinola.’ You get a ‘cookie’ Ilana Mercer! Period! End Report!”